UK, Israel blame Iran for deadly ship attack
By Mustafa Deveci and Zuhal Demirci
LONDON/JERUSALEM (AA): The UK and Israel have blamed Iran for carrying out a deadly drone attack last week in the Indian Ocean on an oil tanker owned by an Israeli magnate’s company. However, Israel has bombed more than a dozen civilian ships carrying Iranian oil for the last two years.
“The UK condemns the unlawful and callous attack committed on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman, which killed a British and a Romanian national. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed in the incident,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on Sunday.
‘We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” he said, urging Tehran to end such attacks.
“The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack,” he added.
UK Foreign Office also said that since February 2021, at least three other Israeli-linked ships have been attacked in the same region. These include: MV Helios Ray on 25 February off the coast of Oman; MV Hyperion Ray on 13 April off the coast of UAE;; CSAV Tyndall on 2 July off the coast of UAE. In the summer of 2019 Iran was also almost certainly responsible for attacks on two vessels in the Gulf of Oman.
However, the Raab did not that these attacks were in retaliation to a dozen Israeli naval attacks on ships carrying Iranian oil for the last two years, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing US and regional officials.
The attacks included water mines in the Red Sea and other areas of the region.
In addition, Israel has conducted hundreds of aerial bombings against Iranian forces and their allies in neighbouring Syria.
A report in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz puts the number of Iranian tankers sabotaged by Israel at around 20.
Such military attacks on civilian vessels in international waters are flagrant breaches of international law, potentially exposing Israel to international court actions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blamed Iran for the attack at a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. He claimed to have evidence that Tehran was behind the deadly tanker assault, warning that his country could “send a message” in retaliation.
“The intelligence evidence for this exists, and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake,” Bennett said.
Two crew members of the oil tanker Mercer Street, which is owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, were killed in the attack in the Indian Ocean while the vessel was en route from Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates, the company said Friday.
The attack blasted a hole through the top of the tanker’s bridge, where the captain and crew were located.
The US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher escorted the Mercer Street to a nearby port.
In recent months, many attacks on commercial vessels have been reported and linked to ongoing heightened tensions between Israel and Iran.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar
Additional report by The Muslim News
[Map of Oman by Burmesedays/Creative Commons]